IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Jason Kelce officially announces his retirement in emotional press conference

The Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman and future Hall of Famer is calling it a career after 13 seasons.
/ Source: TODAY

Jason Kelce has made it official: The Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman and future Hall of Famer is retiring from the NFL after 13 seasons.

Wearing a sleeveless Eagles shirt, Kelce, 36, spent several minutes holding back tears at an emotional press conference on March 4 as he reflected on his football career from his time as a youth and high school player through his stints at the University of Cincinnati and with the Eagles.

"And so, this all brings us here to today, where I announce that I am retiring from the NFL after 13 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles," he said. "And today, I must admit, I am officially overrated. Vastly overrated. It took a lot of hard work and determination getting here. I have been the underdog my entire career, and I mean this when I say it, I wish I still was."

Following his 45-minute speech, he hugged his brother, Chiefs superstar tight end Travis Kelce, his parents, and his wife, Kylie.

He spent a portion of the press conference reflecting on how much his family and wife have meant to him during his journey. He specifically remembered the night he met Kylie at a Philadelphia bar in 2014.

"I think it's no coincidence I have enjoyed my best years of my career with Kylie by my side," he said. "Every accolade I have ever received has come with her in my life. She has brought the best out of me through love, devotion, support, honesty, intelligence and, of course, a swift kick in the ass from time to time."

The star center specifically thanked many of his coaches from high school through the NFL during his speech. He also thanked all the members of the Eagles organization and shared memories of being drafted, working with his fellow offensive linemen, spending time with teammates off the field, and winning the 2018 Super Bowl behind quarterback Nick Foles' MVP performance.

He is now free to do as much shirtless tailgating and podcasting as he wants after announcing that he is calling it a career.

His official announcement came nearly two months after ESPN and NFL Network reported that Kelce told his Eagles teammates after a season-ending, 32-9 playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Jan. 15 that he was retiring.

Kelce was seen blinking back tears and hugging teammates on the sideline near the end of the loss in Tampa Bay to the Bucs.

Jason Kelce at Eagles training camp in 2021.
Jason Kelce is retiring after a 13-year career that puts him among the best centers in NFL history.Mitchell Leff / Getty Images

However, Kelce said on “The Big Podcast with Shaq on Feb. 12 that he was “still figuring it out” when it came to his retirement.

“I think if I still want to play, I’m going to play. I think right now we’re not far enough away from the last game,” he said. “It’s emotional. It’s a long season. We ended the season, quite frankly, awful. So I’m just going to take some time. And then figure it out.”

Kelce is considered one of the best centers in NFL history. He was a six-time All-Pro in his 13 seasons, and the other five centers who earned that honor are all in the Hall of Fame.

His decision to retire comes after a frustrating end to the season for the Eagles, who started 10-1 and then lost six of their last seven games. The brutal finish came one season after they lost a last-second thriller to Travis and the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

"I won't forget falling short to the Chiefs and the conflicted feeling of immense heartbreak I had selfishly for myself and for my teammates," he said at his press conference, "and at the same time the amount of pride I had that my brother had climbed the mountaintop once again."

Kelce did get to experience the high of winning a Super Bowl with the Eagles in the 2017 season.

"On the (parade) route, I remember meeting a woman with ashes of a dead relative whom she had promised wouldn't miss the parade if the Eagles had ever won it," Kelce said.

He said he didn't know what's in store for him in the future, but he has already shown his ability as a podcaster as one-half of the popular “New Heights” podcast with Travis.

“There’s a lot of opportunities and things that are going to be available to do in retirement,” Kelce told Shaquille O’Neal on the NBA legend's podcast. “But I’m also cognizant, after talking to everybody that’s played, that none of that is going to be the same as playing.”

Kelce spent the recent NFL playoffs enjoying life as if he was already retired while cheering on Travis in the Chiefs’ run to a second straight Super Bowl title.

He went shirtless in the freezing temperatures at a Chiefs playoff game in Buffalo, drinking out of a bowling ball at the tailgate and whooping it up in the stands. He also got to know his brother’s megastar girlfriend, Taylor Swift, as they cheered for Travis.

Swift’s legion of fans paid tribute to Kelce with videos on social media saluting him to Swift songs.

Retirement will also mean more time with wife Kylie, who has become a star in her own right, and their three daughters